Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WTF WTIC?


As I post this, I am listening to the last radio program by Colin McEnroe on WTIC. Thank you, CBS radio, for letting Colin have a last show, which is so unusual in the radio biz.

I know I speak for the Connecticut Blogosphere when I ask, "WTF were you thinking, WTIC?!?" Giving Vicevich MORE time and firing Colin? That was the only reason *I* listened to the station -- no need to now. Colin McEnroe provided a station with powerful wattage with intelligent, thoughtful discussions of interesting topics of the day -- every day. The fact that this is unique in talk radio is as much an indictment of the genre as it is the station for canceling his show.

With all of the challenges facing the state, the nation, and yes, the world in the coming year, we need more opportunities for learning and talking out these important issues -- not less. At least you can still read his commentary at his blog here

We love you, Colin, and we'll tune in to whatever station is smart enough to hire you! There may be no crying in radio, but there is crying in the blogosphere on this snowy afternoon.

Kirby and CT Bob

Let's hope this is just the beginning...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My year in review

2008 has been one helluva year, politically speaking.

It exceeded all my expectations by several magnitudes.

This was one of those years that effectively bookends a decade. We started this decade with a stolen presidential election and a massive terrorist attack. We're ending it with getting rid of a terribly inept administration and starting a new era in American political history. It's obvious this decade will be defined by these two sharply contrasting events.

Speaking of which, have we even figured out a consensus term for this decade? What I mean is, if I refer to the "90s", you know exactly what I'm talking about; the decade of the 1990s. We commonly speak of decades by their numbers; the "60s", the "70s", etc. It seems like the 20s through the 90s are acceptable terms.

So, what are we supposed to call this first decade of the new millennium? The "zeros"? The "aught-ohs"? We better figure this shit out sometime soon, because we only have one more year left before we hit the "10s"!

Looking back at this year, I can see that its significance started for me personally not long after the 2006 election. That was the first year I wrote a political blog and was very involved in the online coverage of the Ned Lamont campaign.

In early 2007, I posted the preliminary schedule of presidential primaries, which was a post that grew and changed as states changed their primary dates and reshuffled the calendar right up until January 2008. That one post, which I edited and refined many times over the next 16 months, netted well over 100,000 hits for people searching Google for "primary schedule".

Which was cool, in that it not only got a lot of exposure for my blog, it also provided a real service because there wasn't a simple text-based up-to-date primary schedule anywhere online. Everything was either incredibly complex to use, like CNN's primary website, or they were grossly out of date. I edited the schedule well over 100 times as dates changed and later, as primary results started coming in.

Going into late 2007, after the local elections, the year began in earnest for me. There were pub quizzes for the Jim Himes campaign, Jim Amann kicked off his gubernatorial bid, and Chris Dodd announced his presidential run on the hated Imus show.

The Imus thing kind of pissed me off. It's not bad enough that Dodd decides to announce his presidential run in New York rather than somewhere in his home state, but he does it on the show of a man who appears to be suffering from advanced dementia.


This video pretty much sums up my feelings about that. And while I lauded Chris Dodd for his valiant effort to fight telecom immunity, he spent much of the year ignoring the warning signs that our economy was in serious trouble. Not to mention the fact that his possible sweetheart mortgage deal has brought his ethics into question.

January 1st, I hit the ground running. I was up in Manchester NH for the first official primary, and spent the evening at Dennis Kucinich's returns party, shooting video and watching the upset of Barack Obama by Hillary Clinton. John McCain also won that night, which is the first time I realized that he was probably going to be the GOP nominee.

"Anderson Scooper" shows his love for John McCain's implied support for bombing Iran at a pro-McCain rally up in Manchester right before the primary.

Speaking of bombing, there was a bombing incident that happened the morning after the Texas and Ohio Democratic primaries, in Times Square at 4AM, 35 floors below my hotel window. It woke me up briefly, but I figured loud explosions were probably normal in midtown, and as the hotel didn't start an evacuation, I quickly fell back to sleep until 7AM, when I turned on my TV and saw the coverage. I looked out my window and saw satellite news trucks far below on the street. Apparently the bomb was placed by an anti-military anarchist at the Army recruiting station that sits famously in the middle of Times Square. It was kind of a nice change of pace to have a terrorist attack where nobody was killed or injured.

The hard fought primaries continued. John McCain opened up a formidable lead early in the Republican race and was the de facto nominee by the day after Super Tuesday on February 5th.

Sen. Ted Kennedy speaks at the Obama rally in Hartford the day before Super Tuesday. By then, Hillary and Barack were the only two Democrats left standing, and they battled fiercely for the nomination. Hillary's campaign made some memorable commercials, including this one that I edited to accurately reflect the fear mongering they engaged in:



The annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner was memorable in that I shot probably my favorite photo of the entire year, when Branford Boy was seated by State Central (accidentally, I'm sure) at the same table as the candidate for Congress in the 4th CD Lee Whitnum. Branford Boy may have been known to take a metaphorical shot or two at the wayward candidate on MLN.

By late May, the DNC decided upon the final delegate counts that would be assigned to Florida and Michigan in response to their violating the rules and moving their primaries into January. Here's a memorable video by Jane Hamsher that shows an extremely disgruntled Clinton supporter lashing out at the decision:



Summer finally arrived, and local politics became a bit more important. I interviewed Chris Murphy (below, with Spazeboy's help), and the race for the challenger to Chris Shays heated up with Lee Whitnum forcing a Democratic primary against Jim Himes. Plus, sailing season got here, so I was on the water every chance I got.

I was most proud of asking Chris if he ever felt an uncontrollable urge to push Jean Schmidt down a flight of stairs. He laughed and mentioned how she sometimes said some interesting things.

For a short time, maybe about six or eight weeks, the Hartford Courant selected and printed one of my "columns" every week in both the online and the newsstand Sunday editions. When they made a subsequent round of cutbacks, they stopped featuring online commentary. Because I was allowed no input into the article selection or editing decisions, I was somewhat ambivalent about the results. They often picked articles that were not my best writing, and then edited them for space and content. But it was kind of neat seeing my inane rants published in the paper. Many readers saw this as an obvious sign that the hallowed publication was truly scraping the bottom of the barrel for content; I won't even try to defend myself on that one.

In August, Jim Himes handily defeated neophyte Lee Whitnum for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic National Convention was amazing, ending with perhaps the most memorable Obama speech of the campaign. 13 hours later, McCain successfully stole the Democrat's thunder by naming Sarah Palin (a political blogger's wet dream!) as his VP candidate.

The Republican convention was great, every bit of it worthy of mocking. From Joe Lieberman's whiney condemning of everything Democratic, to John McCain's forgetful speech, it was special. Even their dumb inclusion of a green screen backdrop made for fun; here's my little video that shows what happens if you give bloggers a chance to fiddle with the video:



My "McCain't" bumper sticker was vandalized. Here's the before and after images of the dastardly (and cowardly) deed:

Several days later, my Obama sign was stolen off my front lawn. They left my Barbara Lambert and Gayle Slossberg signs alone. This kind of thing reached epidemic proportions across the country. But I was a little surprised to hear of so much of it happening here in blue Connecticut.

Another unlucky Milfordite who lost his sign, but decided to fight back with a bit of class. Obama won in Milford, along with all the Democrats on our ballot.

video

We won big in November, pretty much across the board. We sent Chris Shays packing, and Barack Obama to the White House. It was cool. I don't need to elaborate much on it, except for the one video above, taken at Jim Himes Election Night HQ in Norwalk.

Oh, and we apparently forgave Joe Lieberman for being such an asshole.

Now, as 2008 draws to a close, I just want to say one thing:

It was one helluva year!

Gaza Protest set for Wednesday in New Haven

Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney says the aid ship she was on was rammed by an Israeli warship, an allegation Israel denies. Video from CNN.com.


Groups to Protest Gaza Massacre, New Haven, Wed. 12/31, Noon

Contact: Stan Hellar, Middle East Crisis Committee
Political Interest. Interview/Photo Opportunity.

Several human rights and political groups will be holding a demonstration at 12 noon on Wednesday, December 31 in front of the Federal Courthouse building in New Haven (141 Church St. opposite the Green) to protest the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

After speeches there will be march in the downtown area.

Sponsoring organizations include the Middle East Crisis Committee, A.N.S.W.E.R. CT, the American Friends Service Committee (CT), People of Faith CT and Socialist Action. Other groups are expected to participate.

Stanley Heller, MECC Chairperson said, "Demonstrations against Israel's attack are occurring worldwide. Over 350 lives have been extinguished. At the demonstration we will call for Connecticut's Congressional delegation to speak out now against the killing. The violence is being described in the media as a 'war', but the Israelis so overpower the Palestinians in the means of violence and the number killed that the event has to be described as a massacre. The world in 1937 was shocked and revolted by the Nazi air force attack on the city of Guernica in the Basque country of Spain. The Israeli attacks with American made F-16's and Apaches should bring about similar horror. We will be calling on President-Elect Obama to break his silence about the Israeli attack. He is not reluctant to speak now about the economy. He shouldn't hesitate to speak out in view of this obvious human rights emergency."

People of Faith is an interfaith organization that works in collaboration with faith communities, organizations and people of goodwill to articulate faith-based values as a foundation for progressive politics and to mobilize constituents for social justice and peace activism.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Online Guide to Obama's Cabinet

Here's a nifty little resource from the Charlotte Observer (via FDL) for info on each of President-elect Obama's cabinet choices. The nominees still need to be approved by the Senate, but there's little doubt they'll have any trouble with that.

When you click on the graphic below, you'll see an interactive list of the cabinet departments as shown below. Click on each department to get a brief overview of the nominee and the department's functions. It's very helpful if you're as forgetful as me.

I've noticed the same thing

Jed L over at DailyKos mentioned something that I've been aware of for a while now. And it's this - every time we experience anything resembling a cold spell here in the United States, the conservative anti-science movement springs to life with a flurry (pun intended) of stories that reiterate how this proves that global warming is pure bullshit, likely crafted by corporation-hating liberals and anti-progress hippies.

They repeat this every chance they get, until it starts to gain a foothold in the popular imagination. Eventually, people start to dispute the overwhelming scientific evidence that artificially increased CO2 levels are directly tied to warmer average global temperatures.

Of course, whenever we hit a warm spell (like right now), you don't hear a peep from the anti-science crowd. From the article:
Remember just a few days ago when the entire Flat Earth Society Conservative Establishment was gleefully cheering on the "heavy" snow to hit Las Vegas and other unlikely parts of the country?

You know how each and every last one of them prattled forth about how this wintertime snowfall proved that global warming was a hoax?

Well, you don't hear much from any them now that a rash of high temperatures is sweeping the country from the midwest to the southeast and threatening to unleash widespread flooding, do you?
The thing that I have trouble understanding is WHY in hell would anyone want to dispute the enormous volume of scientific evidence on global warming and play Russian Roulette with the environment simply to avoid some "inconvenient truths", as Al Gore might say? The downside of continuing to ignore the reality of global warming (an out of control environment leading to possible total devastation) outweighs any minor upside (more profits for corporations because they can continue to dump all the CO2 into the atmosphere they want). Click on the link to read the entire article.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Resolutions

Here's my draft list of New Year's resolutions that I'm going to do my absolute best to keep. This is a work in progress:

1. I resolve to give Barack Obama at least 100 days before I start bitching about what he's doing wrong. I think I'll find this easier to do than many of my more progressive friends, because I've never really believed that Obama is an authentic progressive; I see him as more of a moderate Democrat. Which is just what we need right now.

2. I resolve to be "greener" in the coming year. That means keeping the heat turned down this winter (fleece is really warm indoors), avoid unnecessary driving, shut off lights in rooms that I'm not in, take more care to recycle stuff, and cut down on the amount of paper I generate.

That last one is gonna be tough, because I'm awful at conserving paper. My printer seems to run constantly. This coming year, I'm going to try to file things electronically on my computer rather than print out hard copies. And I'm going to keep a pile of paper that I only printed on one side to reuse, rather than simply toss it in the trash.

3. I resolve to be more involved locally (this one will make Tessa happy; she's always bugging me to get more involved!) There's plenty of ways I can devote some time to helping out in my town besides being a sometimes participant on our local Democratic Town Committee. I'm sure I'll find something I can do that will be both fun and fulfilling to do.

4. Lastly, I resolve to lose 30 pounds by next Christmas, no matter what.

(Boy, is it gonna hurt when I have to saw my leg off on Christmas Eve!)

OK, that's my draft resolution list so far. I'm sure I'll change it up a bit (especially the leg one), and I'll post my final list on New Year's Eve.

And of course, whether I ask for them or not, I'm sure you wise-asses will add some helpful suggestions to the comments.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Truth about Santa Claus

It's not often you hear the jolly old elf referred to as a "colossal dick". But even as a small child watching this show, I realized that Santa and the reindeer were kind of being douchebags. Via Christy Harden Smith at FDL:



OK, now that I've softened you up with that, here's a fun little variation on the same theme:

"Full Metal Jacket" is one of my favorite Kubrick films, and it's filled with brilliantly caustic dialog. Here's an artistic re-imagining of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman if he were Santa's head elf rather than a drill sergeant.

Merry Christmas, folks!



Bonus Double Feature: Scorsese does "Raging Rudolph"! And the "Reinfather"! Combined in one blockbuster clip!



OK, that's quite enough Youtubery for me. Have a great holiday!

Minn. recount update

The Minnesota Senate race recount is still going on, with each contested ballot being carefully examined and voted upon by a board of state officials, including Sec. of State Mark Richie. The recount is periodically streamed online at TheUptake.com.

Now the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune is adding to the collection of online data by publishing actual ballots to show what the canvassing board is dealing with.

The total transparency of this process is ground-breaking. Every step of the recount is being made available to the public, which helps keeps the process honest and above reproach. This isn't a case like Florida 2000, where some people accused the recount officials of creating votes by punching out "dimpled" or "hanging" chads. Fortunately, the paper ballots are fairly simple to read and interpret.

The board agreed to a certain framework to determine the voter's intent in cases where the optical scanning machines couldn't read the ballots properly. For instance, when an "X" is placed over the circle rather than filling it in completely, the machine might not register it as a vote but the intent of the voter is usually quite clear. By agreeing upon a standard of interpretation, the two candidates are less likely to dispute individual ballots after the recount concludes.

Here's several examples from the Star-Tribune:

The ballot above would be considered a vote for Franken, because the voter obviously marked the oval for Coleman by mistake and then crossed it out, then filled in Franken's oval. The entire ballot is shown online, so you can see how the voter filled in the other ovals on the ballot. If he used "X's" to vote for other offices, the vote would probably have been awarded to Coleman, or disallowed as ambiguous. But on this particular ballot, the remainder of the ovals are filled in completely and not "X"-ed out.

This is a vote for Coleman. The optical scanner would probably have recorded this as two votes for the same office, which is known as an "overvote" and would have been automatically voided, at least as far as the Senate vote goes. But the board was able to determine the obvious intent of the voter, so his/her vote counted. This kind of care helps the cause of democracy.

Despite the stray mark in the first oval, the intent of the voter was obvious and this is a vote for Coleman.

The importance of this process being completely transparent is that it will help restore citizen's confidence in the system. As long as other factors involved such as the chain of custody of the ballots has been properly observed, there's little doubt that the final results of this election will stand above suspicion.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why are they polling this?

Is the Quinnipiac Poll going through some kind of post-election withdrawal? In an obvious effort to stave off the onset of the winter blues, Q-Poll has included in their latest approval poll the following question:
"As you may know, Senator Hillary Clinton has been nominated to be Secretary of State and Governor Paterson will pick her replacement in the Senate. Who do you think Governor Paterson should pick to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate; Caroline Kennedy, Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand or someone else?"
Now, they posed this question to 834 New York State registered voters. I think they could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort by simply asking one person whom he will choose.

Gov. David Paterson. That's it.

Because his is the ONLY opinion that really matters in this case. Caroline Kennedy, Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten What's-er-face, and "someone else" aren't running for election. They are running for appointment. The only person they need to poll is Gov. Paterson. This isn't a case where the will of the voters is a deciding factor.

Then again, I've always had a love-hate relationship with the Q-Poll. I feel their polling is top-notch and usually very good. But sometimes their insipid analysis of the results annoys me. I really wish they'd stick with the numbers and let the readers draw their own conclusions.
(Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute) "Ask the question two ways: Should the Governor appoint Ms. Kennedy? New Yorkers give her a narrow lead over Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Will he appoint her? Heavily, the answer is 'yes.'"
This is what I'm talking about. It almost gives the impression that they are rooting for Caroline Kennedy to get the seat.

Another example of this was last week when Doug Schwartz referred to the 52% to 39% approval of the State Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage as "...Connecticut voters are not in love with same-sex marriage as a bare majority backs the State Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to wed."

I think characterizing a 13% margin of approval as CT voters being "not in love" with the idea is absurd; along with calling it a "bare majority", while being technically correct, is certainly misleading in tone. I can't help but feel there's a chance that someone's personal views are coloring the opinions expressed about the polls.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On Senate succession

As the recent Caroline Kennedy and Rod Blagojevich sagas illustrate, there's a huge problem with the laws regarding Senate succession in many states.

I have an issue with a single person having the power to appoint the successor to a Senator should he or she leave office before the end of their term. In relation to the national political landscape, it can have a profound effect on the balance of the Senate. When the will of the people can be easily subverted by the vote of just one governor, we need to take a long look at how to fix the problem.

This isn't simply a problem for Democrats. There are currently 58 Democratic senators; actually 59, since the Minnesota recount is almost definitely going to Franken. Should a Republican senator leave office in a state with a Democratic governor, the vote of just one person would create a super-majority in the Senate and have far reaching implications until the next general election. It wouldn't matter if the departing senator won by a landslide, it's up to the will of the governor who to appoint, even himself.

Plus, as Blagojevich shows, the possibility of corruption may unduly influence the decision.

With Caroline Kennedy, you have a recently ascended NY Governor who is being put in a very difficult position. The Kennedy name is very influential, and David Paterson may conceivably risk his future political health if he doesn't present Ms. Kennedy with the seat, even though she's never even campaigned for public office, let alone served in an elected position. She is completely unvetted in the traditional sense, such as campaigning for the requisite 18-24 months to gain the opportunity to be placed on the ballot. She hasn't even had a press conference yet, unless you consider her one-sentence statement last week with no questions allowed to be a press conference.

I've always been in favor of total Democracy. Anything that puts the power into the hands of the people when filling vacant seats is a good thing. I think we need to examine the laws regarding succession of this national office, and pass some sort of law that requires a special election within a reasonable amount of time, perhaps no more than 60-120 days after the office becomes vacant. If a primary is needed, a month or so would be minimally enough to at the very least introduce the candidates to the public.

The point is, while there's no simple solution to this, ANYTHING is better than the decision being made by just one vote, without recourse, cast by a single person.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nice job, Sears!

Here's a great post about a fabulous job Sears is doing in supporting reservists called up who happen to work for the company. If you have any shopping left to do and you dig out tomorrow, stop by and give Sears some spending love.

Watch Minn. recount live

The recount of the contested Senate votes in Minnesota has been proceeding for several days now. The MN Sec. of State's office is painstakingly discussing the votes and doing a fine job of it. The process is interesting and streamed live on the internet, where they show each ballot they're weighing so you know exactly how they rule on each one.

This is a fascinating thing to watch, and a terrific example of transparency in a process that's often shielded in secrecy and left to conjecture. Bravo to the fine state of Minnesota.

TheUptake.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

OT: I passed my Cisco cert exam today

Not for nothing, but I've been very busy lately. Since the election I've been studying for the Cisco CCENT certification exam, which I just passed earlier this morning. Now I'm somewhat qualified to maintain and support Cisco equipment. (see below - artist's conception)

Beyond this, there's the full CCNA cert, and then such tracks as CCDP, CCIP, and CCSP, eventually leading to a CCIE level. Suffice it to say, this is only one step in what is likely to be a long term pattern of studying and exam taking.

But for now, I think I'm just gonna enjoy the holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now You're Pissing Me Off, Barack

OK, Person of the Year -- Kirby here. I was not real happy about the Hillary as Secretary of State, but figured you knew things we didn't. I was really unhappy with the whole Lieberman thing -- I think you took "forgive and forget" a little too far there, and we in Connecticut who are NOT responsible for that worm being in the Senate will never forgive OR forget.

But, Rick Warren for the invocation at your inauguration? He opposes gay marriage, believes in evolution, calls abortion another Holocaust, and dresses himself up as a less threatening version of James Dobson -- when he is just as scary. Go read the piece from the Nation.

Yo, Barack -- time to become a purpose-driven Democrat. Enough of this crap.

Ya think?

Time has named Barack Obama their choice for "Person of the Year".

Golly, they really went way the hell out on a limb this time around, eh?

Monday, December 15, 2008

CT Congressmen sign onto HCAN

Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, and Chris Murphy are joined by Congressman-elect Jim Himes (pictured above, along with Sens. Dodd and Lieberman last month) in signing onto the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) principles.

HCAN is a national grassroots campaign organizing millions of Americans to win a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all. HCAN is bringing together community organizers, nurses, doctors, small business owners, faith-based groups, organizations of people of color, and seniors who believe it's time we had an American solution that provides quality, affordable health care for everyone.

President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden both signed onto the HCAN principles as well. Visit http://healthcareforamericanow.org/ for more info.

UPDATE Video of Jim Himes signing the statement in Norwalk:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Somebody wake up the Secret Service

WTF were those guys doing? SLEEPING? Because they sure as hell ain't doing a good job protecting our President!



And the guy throwing the shoes made a typical rookie mistake that righties often do; he pulled the pitch down and left. A good follow-through is critical and getting a proper bend to the back helps with the delivery. Credit Bush for getting out of the way of a weakly thrown beanball.

Seriously though, Bush is still our President, and it bothers the hell outta me that his security detail couldn't prevent the guy from getting a second shot off! Good thing White House spokesperson Dana Perino was there to use her face to block the attack, or the nutcase might have balled up his socks and thrown them next!

But somebody better school the security guys in basic response to a threat; don't forget in about a month we're gonna have a new President that we absolutely need to keep safe! Because right now, they're doing about as good a job as Anwar Sadat's protectors did.

UPDATE! Wanted for questioning!

"Who throws a shoe? Honestly!"

(Random Task is on the loose!)

If it was me, maybe I'd stay there

This is a weird and sad story.

A grand jury has subpoenaed Chris Shays' former campaign manager, Michael Sohn, in connection with the possible embezzlement of roughly $300,000 in campaign funds. Currently, Sohn is in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan on a delayed honeymoon, and is out of touch. He's expected back on December 26th.

Things are not going to be pleasant for Michael Sohn when he returns. The Connecticut Post reports that several state Republicans believe that Sohn used the money for gambling, and there may have been ATM withdrawals at the local casinos.

Bhutan is located in one of the most isolated mountainous regions in the world. Their culture is still largely traditional, although in recent years tourism has become a source of income. The mythical realm of "Shangri-La" is said to be largely based on Bhutan. Life is simple and at times requires hard work, but the people apparently are very happy there.

I don't know if Bhutan has an extradition treaty with the United States, but if it doesn't, I can certainly think of worse places a person could camp out for a while.

Like prison.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dodd condemns GOP vote

While there are occasions in which he perplexes me, I feel that overall Sen. Chris Dodd has done more good than harm. This is something I would hesitate to say about a lot of other senators.

Here he strikes the right note in discussing the obstructionist politics of the Senate Republican vote on the auto bailout, which Dodd indicated was "designed to create a political problem, rather than solve an economic one."

Video via FireDogLake:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gang of 18 halts Auto bailout

This article sums up the hypocrisy of the Senate Republicans, by Jed L from DailyKos:

These 18 Republican Senators voted in favor of the $700 billion bank bailout, but against the $14 billion emergency loan package to keep the auto industry from collapsing:

Here they are by name:

Bob Bennett, R-UT
Richard Burr, R-NC
Saxby Chambliss, R-GA
Tom Coburn, R-OK
Norm Coleman, R-MN
Bob Corker, R-TN
John Ensign, R-NV
Chuck Grassley, R-IA
Judd Gregg, R-NH
Orrin Hatch, R-UT
Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX
Johnny Isakson, R-GA
John Kyl, R-AZ
Mel Martinez, R-FL
John McCain, R-AZ
Mitch McConnell, R-KY
Lisa Murkowski, R-AK
John Thune, R-SD

Hypocritical, job-killing extremists -- each and every last one of them.
Just to reiterate, these oh-so-fiscally conservative giants, these careful stewards of our nation's wealth, these living monuments to compassionate concern for working families, have decided that a blank check for 3/4 of a trillion dollars to poorly-run banks that give their owners multi-million dollar bonuses is just fine and dandy.

But an amount that equals roughly TWO PERCENT of the bank bailout and probably saves two out of the Big Three automakers is apparently the absolute height of wasteful spending.

It reminds me of the old expression, "In for a penny, in for a pound". I'm not a big fan of the bank bailout, but I feel that if you're in for a pound, you should at least toss an extra penny to a group that actually PRODUCES something tangible!

Thank you GOP. We thought you guys did great with the war, but you've really outdone yourselves with this move!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too Late for CT Chrysler Dealer


After this post here two days ago, Mr. Kirby drove past the dealer from whom we have bought our American vehicles for the past 25 years. The place was empty. Goodbye Hamden Chrysler (formerly Hamden Chrysler-Plymouth). Ed Glater, VP when I first met him and later president, who subsequently retired was a real mensch -- took care of customers who then never looked elsewhere. We are very sad to see that the dealership has closed...and to the Senators who think the loan passed by the House for the auto industry is too much money without enough oversight -- we spend more money in a month and a half in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"It's a *bleeping* valuable thing!"

I hate this.

I hate that I now know the Illinois governor's name. I hate that I can even pronounce it properly. (bluh-GOY'-uh-vich)

I hate that ANY elected official does this kind of thing, let alone a Democrat.

I hate that several other Democrats are likely to get swept up in this awful scandal, possibly including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

I hate the fact that Blagojevich is threatening to fight and hang on to his seat, despite both President-elect Obama and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin calling for him to step down.

I hate that Blagojevich can still legally appoint anyone he wants to Obama's old seat, regardless of whether he's guilty or not, until he leaves or is removed from office.

I even hate Blagojevich's *bleeping* wife!

I hate that the wingnutosphere is salivating at the prospect of hanging this scandal around Barack Obama's neck before he even takes office, not unlike the extended (and fruitless) investigation into the Clinton's involvement in the Whitewater scandal that tied up the first few years of his presidency.

And last but not least, I hate that Blagojevich stole his absolutely awful hairstyle from Javier Bardem!

The only thing I DO approve of in this whole mess is how Patrick Fitzgerald uses the word "bleeping" when reading the transcripts of Blagojevich's statements aloud, rather than the clumsy and rhythm-killing phrase "expletive deleted" that was so popular during Nixon's day. The use of "bleeping" really brings the mob boss-mentality of Blagojevich's words alive.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So Very Many Stories....All About the Benjamins



Today has certainly gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.

The ridiculous? If the Blogo story (complaint PDF warning-language) had been written as a Hollywood script, it would have been laughed out of development offices as too contrived. This should provide plenty of entertainment for weeks...and how close will it get to Obama?

If you'd like to read the actual auto bailout bill, it's here. I actually read the original TARP bill at the same blog (thank you, Marc Ambinder and The Atlantic) -- all three pages. It is instructive to see how this sausage is made. My first car way back when was a Dodge Charger muscle car with a 383 V-8 slapstick, and I have been a Chrysler girl ever since. I now tool around in a PT Cruiser (paid for, thank you) and have believed in buying American -- my husband has been driving Chrysler products for 25 years, and my father was a Dodge dealer in New York. I'm just sayin'

As Ed Schultz asked today, where the hell were these Republicans who are so against money for the automakers when they were authorizing billions to go down the drain in Iraq...for WHAT infrastructure? To add insult to injury -- literally -- , this report (PDF) out today that military leaders knew about the dangers of IEDs before the war started but stopped processing and urgent request for mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles. WTF?

And, finally, the sublime...Bank of America has offered a loan so Republic Windows and Doors workers in Chicago can get paid. Congratulations to workers standing up. Meanwhile, the Tribune company screws the people laid off at the Courant, as its bankruptcy filing immediately ends all severance payments. Scrooge.

Photo credit: Dani Simmonds

More and more crossover

It's nice to see the MSM make more of an effort to use the blogs as a source of punditry, and not simply rely on the same tired old wags for their opinions. David Shuster on MSNBC reads part of Jane Hamsher's post from yesterday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Caroline Kennedy? Maybe

She's reportedly getting support on this from the President-elect. I gotta admit, the suggestion that JFK's daughter Caroline fill departing Senator Hillary's seat is somewhat intriguing. On the surface it looks like a good enough idea. Only when you look at the situation a little closer does it raise some questions.

Jane Hamsher wrote an article yesterday called "Caroline Kennedy? Thanks But No Thanks" where she discusses some significant reasons why Caroline shouldn't just be handed the seat. Specifically, Jane mentioned she's never even run for political office, let alone held an office, and there's no way of knowing if she'll handle the pressure of being a Kennedy in a very public situation where she'll be open to criticism like she's never been before. If she can't handle it and folds, it'll become a huge rallying point for the right.

Plus, there's the issue of entitlement in the Senate that most of us have a big problem with. Sure, we all love the Kennedys, but isn't it a little hypocritical to simply give this important office to someone who, if she didn't have the Kennedy connection, wouldn't even be considered for the job? Is it possible that there's a bit of the vague yet enduring romantic notion of "Camelot" stirring in our unconscious collective mind that makes her such an attractive choice to us?

On the plus side, Caroline's senate job would benefit from that very same Kennedy connection. She's the heir apparent to all that political good will the family has accumulated over the decades. The NY Post reports as much:
Powerful senator and family patriarch Ted Kennedy has been working back channels to promote niece Caroline as the replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate, family sources told The Post.

The elder Kennedy (D-Mass.), who's battling brain cancer, has sent word to Gov. Paterson's office that Caroline Kennedy, 51, has contacts and family connections that would mean legislation affecting New York would receive prompt attention, family sources said.
It will be interesting to see how this story develops. I think she's probably got a one-in-ten chance of getting this, as there are certainly more experienced candidates circling the governor's office. And as reported in the same article:
A Paterson-administration source said that because of Caroline's limited political experience, she is "barely in the game."
UPDATE: More Jane Hamsher on the Caroline situation; and Markos agrees with Jane.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Video Christmas Card for you

Here's my video Christmas card for all you good boys and girls out there!

The video is of me (naturally) from nearly 25 years ago. If I tried doing this nowadays, I'd probably rupture a disc! My last skydive was about 6 years ago, and it pretty much convinced me that the human body loses the ability to quickly bounce back as it gets older. Thank god for archived video!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Shays campaign reports possible fraud

First of all, I want to mention that this story is in a very preliminary stage, and it appears that Chris Shays wasn't at all involved in what the Hartford Courant is reporting as "some kind of financial fraud during the course of the campaign."

The Courant story goes on to say:
The announcement (by the campaign) was vague about the circumstances, only saying that the work on the $3.6 million campaign's final financial filings demonstrated "a series of anomalies." Those anomalies were apparently discovered by campaign treasurer Ralph DePanfilis and finance director Kathleen Pierce and focused on a specific former employee.
This seems to suggest that the fraud was perpetrated by a single employee and wasn't some kind of coordinated effort to misuse the funds, as many have suggested may have happened during the 2006 primary campaign by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

Lieberman's campaign, you may recall, reported a total of $386,000 in "petty cash" for the period ending with the primary. Any funds classified as petty cash are essentially untraceable and the money remains unaccounted, except as a total figure. Other senate campaigns typically report amounts under several hundred dollars during a comparable period, usually for office supplies and such. A third of a million will buy you a shitload of stamps!

It'll be interesting to see how well the Shays campaign's financial dealings are investigated, especially when considering that people may have left Lieberman campaign offices with their pockets literally stuffed with $50 bills, destined for parts unknown. We're still waiting for someone to investigate that one.

Also, consider how if someone from the Senator's campaign makes up a false charge about someone hacking into their poorly designed and inadequate website, you get FBI agents swarming all over the place. Who then wrap up their investigation within weeks and neglected to inform anyone, including those who were slandered by the false charges. But as far as I know, there hasn't been more than a cursory glance at Lieberman's campaign fund irregularities.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Off to a good start

"'ello? I am zee prezident-eelect. Ees zis Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen?"

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-18) was so sure the phone call she received from someone claiming to be Barack Obama was a prank that she promptly hung up on him. When another person claiming to be Rahm Emmanuel called back moments later, she gave him the same treatment.

I don't think this is the ideal definition of "off to a good start"!

Ros-Lehtinen later said that she was convinced it was a joke perpetrated by "...one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks."
Finally, an aide told Ros-Lehtinen she had an urgent call from Chairman Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Still suspicious, Ros-Lehtinen urged the California Democrat to recount a story only both of them would know.

Berman passed the test — and told her she had, in fact, hung up on President-elect Obama.

"You are either very gracious to reach out in such a bipartisan manner or had run out of folks to call if you are truly calling me and Saturday Night Live could use a good Obama impersonator like you," Ros-Lehtinen joked with the president-elect.

The whole "Sarah Palin pranked by phony Nicolas Sarkozy" thing has gotten GOP lawmakers a little paranoid, I think. But after all, Ileana is simply a Congresswoman and not the VP nominee, so it's possible that she's being just a little TOO cautious, maybe even borderline crazy.

Or maybe she's being crazy like a fox, and she knew that by hanging up on the president-elect a few times, she'd get her name mentioned across the country. Hey, it worked, obviously. I'd never heard of her before.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I hate it when we lose one

No, I'm not talking about the Senate seat in Georgia; that was a foregone conclusion since November.

I'm referring to our new Secretary of Commerce nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson shaving off his beard! Of course, it goes without saying that I'm appalled and aghast.

Reactions to Gov. Richardson losing his beard are pouring in! President-elect Barack Obama made this observation about the debearding (via CNN.com):
"I'm going to answer this question about the beard," said Obama, when Richardson was asked where the facial hair went. "I think it was a mistake for him to get rid of it. I thought that whole Western, rugged look was really working for him.

"For some reason, maybe because it was scratchy when he kissed his wife, he was forced to get rid of it.," Obama continued as his nominee for commerce secretary smiled broadly. "But we're deeply disappointed with the loss of the beard."
I'm personally shocked and saddened at this sudden and dismal turn of events. Sporting a jaunty beard should no longer be an impediment to gainful employment, and indeed, we should all work together to restore the beard to its rightful place in modern day fashion.

As a long time beard care-taker, I can agree with Obama's feelings on the matter. We need more beards in government, and as long as people like Gov. Richardson shave their beards when they get a new job, the bearded look that was once so popular will find it difficult to make a comeback.

Here's a few examples of Presidents who didn't worry about the impact of facial hair on their careers; in fact, these guys embraced the beard with an almost "ZZ-Top" like fanaticism!

Those guys got some serious 19th-century foliage growing there!

Gov. Richardson made some good points about his beard:
"After the campaign, I grew a beard as a rebellion against those consultants who told me I had to comb my hair, shave, lose weight. I said, You know, I’m gonna do what I want now. That was a good feeling."
That's great, Bill. But why not stick with the beard now that you're going to DC, and help bring the traditional look back to those cabinet meetings? C'mon governor, you KNOW you want to rock that awesome bearded look!

(Besides, the beard will also help hide that neck wattle of yours!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Chambliss likely to win in GA

As voters go to the polls today in Georgia, it looks like incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss will retain his seat in spite of overwhelming Democratic wins across the nation. Chambliss already WOULD have won, except for a twist in their laws, which requires a Senate candidate to garner at least 50% plus one vote in order to win. While winning by about 3%, he fell just short of getting a majority due to third-party candidates on the ballot.



So, this will finally put to rest the possibility of the Democrats getting a 60-seat majority in the Senate to ensure defeat of any GOP filibusters. The Super Majority is dead.

Which, as far as I'm concerned, was a fantasy to begin with. The magical number 60 depended on both Al Franken winning his recount in Minnesota, and the continued good will of Sen. Joe Lieberman. I don't trust him to deal in good faith with the Democrats, as he's often stated that he'll act on his own "principles" rather than what's good for the nation or the Democratic Party.

These principles, in case you forgot, include such things as siding with the GOP to invade Iraq and taking steps to set up an invasion of Iran; campaigning endlessly for John McCain and GOP Senate candidates; favoring Catholic hospitals in denying Plan B emergency contraception to rape victims; forcing continued life-support for brain-dead patients over the wishes of spouses (Teri Schiavo); supporting ultra-conservative candidates for the Supreme Court; failing to investigate Katrina as HSC Chair; etc.

But Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have short memories, and they decided to forgive and forget everything Joe Lieberman has done to betray his former party, all in the desperate hope that they might be able to count upon his vote to make that magical "Sixty".

Well, it ain't gonna happen now. We technically have 58, and if Franken prevails in the recount (which at this point is very much in doubt) we'll have 59. But Georgia is almost definitely going to remain a GOP seat, and all those Democratic dreams for a super-majority is going to have to wait until the 2010 election at the earliest.

I wonder if things would be different if Georgia didn't have that silly little glitch in their laws that made a runoff election, which was scheduled AFTER the Senate Steering Committee met, a necessity? If Chambliss actually won on election night and the mythical 60 was completely out of reach, would Barack Obama have withheld his support for Joe? Would Harry Reid have stuck to his original tough talk about Lieberman? Would Chris Dodd and about 40 other Senators have voted differently and punished Joe the way everyone expected?

We'll never know. At this point, it's only idle speculation and it doesn't really serve any useful purpose. But we should remember this, because, unlike those well-insulated Senate Democrats, we'll be the ones who have to live with the results of their actions.

And the first time Joe Lieberman behaves true-to-form and screws the Democrats again (like we firmly believe he will), we'll be there to remind those Senators of their actions and hold them accountable.

Hey, maybe I'm wrong, and Joe Lieberman will become a good Senator and actually work WITH the party to get constructive legislation approved. It MIGHT conceivably happen...

...I'm just not going to hold my breath.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Stellar Show

I just took this photo of a very rare conjunction of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter about 15 minutes ago. If you get a chance, go outside RIGHT NOW and look to the west.

The show will probably be over by 8:00 tonight when the trio sets, and tomorrow the Moon will have moved off a ways, so tonight's the one chance to see it all.

However, Venus and Jupiter will still make a stunning pair for another week or so.

Last Senate race of the year

Tomorrow is the final election of the year (barring a redo or something similarly weird in Minnesota) for the Senate seat from Georgia.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss pulled out the big gun today, with a campaign appearance by none other than losing VP candidate Sarah Palin. Democratic challenger Jim Martin urged voters who came out for Barack Obama last month to show up tomorrow. However, McCain/Palin won Georgia 52-47%, so Martin may need a little help to win.

It's going to boil down to who is more motivated among GA voters; those who want real change by getting the Senate Democrats one step closer to the magical 60 votes needed to kill any GOP filibusters, or those who want to stick with more of the same - the pro-gun, anti-choice, stomp on your civil liberties crew.

Saxby (where do these hicks get their names, anyway?) has been getting a lot of help from the national Republicans, who are anxious to retain even the slightest chance at a filibuster for the coming two years. It'll be interesting to see who shows up at the polls tomorrow.